Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - Bengkulu province in Sumatra island still had about 100 - 165 elephants but the population of those animals was seriously in danger, a conservationist said.

Spokesman of the province`s natural resources conservation agency (BKSDA) Supartono said here Sunday that the natural habitats of those elephants were around Ipuh river, Mount Sumbing and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (TNBBS) in Kaur district.

Four groups of Sumatran elephants were also found in the Kerinci Sebelat National Park (TNKS) areas, namely Air Sebelat-Air Rami (50 elephants), Tumbulan-Air Sebelat Merah (19), Air Madu-Air Retak-Air Ikan (53 - 55), and Air Berau-Air Teramang, he said.

However, the lives of those animals were always threatened by wild hunters and people`s poisoning as a result of ongoing human-animal conflicts, he said.

A number of wild elephants kept entering the people`s palm plantation areas, which were naturally those animals` habitat, he said.

In helping protect the elephants, Supartono said the Bengkulu province needs to have working groups, whose main tasks were to protect, prevent, and preserve the animals` population.

The working groups for elephant and endangered species should have been established as approved by all governors in Sumatra island in 2007, he said.

One of the agreements was revealed in the year 2008 Regulation of Forestry Ministry Number P48/Menhut II about management and mitigation of human and elephant conflict.

However, the enforcement of such this regulation was the most important thing in the field, he said.

Serious intentions of the government and other stakeholders were needed to implement the regulations that could help protect the wild animals, he said.

Each district needs to have a working to avail more well-organized management and to ease fund allocation from regional budget, he said.

Meanwhile, Hary Santoso, director of Biodiversity and Natural Resources of the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, said there had been an agreement among the Forestry Ministry, Public Work Ministry, and Environment Minister in 2007.

The agreement itself was then binding governors of ten Sumatran provinces to preserve and protect the Sumatran elephants and other endangered species.

The agreement focused on city and urban planning in Sumatra especially those which were inhabited by rare and endangered species, he said.

With regard to the extinction of Balinese tigers in 1978, Harry said: "We don`t want that happen to rare and endangered animals in Bengkulu Province."(*)

Editor: Ruslan Burhani
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